Welcome to the start of the 2016 NFL season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have taken the field and fans are getting their first glimpse of the team that made leaps and bounds in progress last year. This team looks different, feels different, and sounds different. Many questions will arise out of training camp this week, but until the pads go on it’s hard to gauge where the team is at this point. Padless training camp is about as useful as preseason football. Good for setting a roster, but means nothing for the regular season. With Tampa hitting the field, people will start to bring up what they can do to improve over last year and how can they get to become contenders in the NFL. A few will bring up defensive play, others will bring up the ability to piggy back the success of the offensive line last year. Plenty will say it’s riding on the back of Jameis Winston. Personally, the conversation should center on the Bucs as an organization being more consistent.
Consistency is defined as unchanging in achievement or effect over a period of time. Doing the same thing over and over. Please don’t go into the, ‘well the Bucs have been consistently bad’ shtick. That is played out. The kind of consistency that is being discussed now is not on the field, but what happens off of it. Over the last 8 years Tampa has had 5 different head coaches starting with Jon Gruden’s final year in Tampa in 2008. In that same span, there have been 8 different starting quarterbacks. Looking at the history of the NFL, the greatest coaches have tenures of 10-20 years, one of the longest was at 33 years. Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Cleveland Browns (yes they had a span of greatness back in the day) were a few teams that were always in position to win year in and year out. If you want to argue that the game was different then than it is now, look at New England, Cincinnati, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Green Bay, they all have coaches of 6 or more years together. Understandably, these teams have quality players but that also comes from the front office as well. The teams build around the same philosophy of the coaching staff and can get players to fit the mold that the team is looking for. This is something that Tampa has not had in recent years and it shows.
The NFL is all about winning now and the ‘what have you done for me lately?’ mentality. Most of the coaches that have failed in recent years for Tampa were trying to build a team with guys they didn’t select to match their style of coaching. The organization never really gave anyone a chance to build a team around their ideas of how it should be run. However, the Bucs may be able to start the consistency trend with new head coach Dirk Koetter and 2nd year quarterback Jameis Winston. Both are in their second year with the team, and with Dirk’s promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach, he has more say in who the team brings in to fit his system. That team, by the way, was a massive success (comparatively speaking) in 2015. If Tampa wants to join the conversation of NFL contender, wait, NFC South contender, they are gonna have to let Koetter and Jameis have some free reign to build up what they started last season. If this team is poised to make a run at that, it is now. Winston may hit a sophomore slump and Koetter may need sometime to adjust to the NFL head coaching role. These two together may be exactly what this franchise can build around to one day be considered a consistent franchise and win more games in the future as long as the front office doesn’t get too impatient.
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